You may still be in college, working your way up the corporate ladder, or a single parent struggling to provide a good life for your kids, but just because you're not making the big bucks (yet), doesn't mean you can't become a smart investor with a good plan to improve your financial situation. Small choices you make now can add up to big changes in your future.
Consider the following ways in which you can initiate the positive changes you want in your life:
1. Start Making Small Sacrifices
Even if you're in college, where expenses are constantly draining you, small changes can be made. For example, buying used books over new or exchanging clothes with another coed rather than shopping for new ones will save you a small fortune without dramatic negative impacts.
As a ladder-climbing worker or struggling single parent, you may think there aren't any more sacrifices to make, but if you look harder, you'll find them. Can you economize your cable or internet bundle? Are you driving the most fuel-efficient vehicle? Or perhaps you could sometimes carpool to work.
Look hard enough and you will find ways you can slash spending. Just be sure you divert those funds to something practical.
2. Improve Your Financial Intelligence Now
While you don't have to know current exchange rates all over the world or what Bitcoins are trading at, you should build the basic knowledge that will fuel your positive change. How do you plan on getting the most out of your savings when you've finally built it up to something respectable? Are you going to leave the money in an interest-bearing savings account or would you like to start investing?
Maybe you could initiate yourself into investing with a 5-Year Treasury Inflation Protected Security bond, where you earn a little interest, semi-annually, but still have your initial investment amount or more at the end of the term. Municipal bonds, when held to maturity, hold their value no matter what happens to the interest rates; however, if you're looking for a shorter-term return, you could investigate buying someone else's bonds that are close to maturity.
There are many ways in which you could dabble in investing now, learn as you go and develop a strong repertoire of tactics and strategies that over the long-term will help you build real equity. Speak with an investment advisor who can help you make the bricks you can eventually use to build a solid financial future.
3. Make Sure Your Spending Rewards You
No matter who you are or what your savings account looks like, you have to spend money; however, that should be paying you back some, nearly every time it happens. Take the time to read the fine print on your credit card applications, so you can choose one that rewards you in some way for using it. Even if it's a cash-back card, that money will come in handy and it's certainly better than no reward at all.
The cash-back credit card business has become quite competitive, meaning those companies are fighting for your business. Find out which one is going to work the hardest for you and your specific spending habits.
4. Make Sure Your Saving Rewards You
The last thing you want going on with your savings efforts is to be penalized for using an "out of network" ATM or for failing to maintain a high enough balance or any other reason the bank can think of for charging you. Fees and penalties add up to taking a significant amount of your hard-earned, sacrificed savings, so research any financial institution before setting up savings with them. You should not be paying money to save money—that simply makes no sense (or cents) at all.
5. Start Saving Small Change Automatically
Wherever you are in your life's journey, be it grinding away in corporate America, cramming in college, or being up to your ears in diapers, you most likely have a smartphone. Put it to good use for your financial future, by downloading a trusted app that rounds up your change and tucks it away into savings. Any money left over on the dollar will be instantly diverted to your savings account, making this an effortless win for you every time you spend.
6. Partner Your Cause With A Wise Adviser
Investment advisers don't cater only to the wealthy; their services are available to anyone with the common sense to use them. Find one you enjoy talking to and treat them more like a therapist in the beginning. Complain about the shortcomings in your budget, moan about the prices you pay for everything, and confess where you really want to be in five or ten years. This will give the adviser good insight into where you are now, where you want to be eventually, and what changes need to be made to get you there.
A financial adviser doesn't just pick stocks and predict market corrections all day, they sit down face-to-face with people just like you and help them turn financial dreams into reality. Look for an adviser you can see yourself having a long-term relationship with, because you both have to be in it for the long haul.
You may only be dreaming of a big bank account these days, but to eventually achieve that dream, you have to start now. One of the first things that must change, though, is your mentality. Stop telling yourself that you're never going to get ahead and most definitely, stop telling yourself that financial success is something that has to come later on in life or once you're through whatever tribulation you're currently facing. It all begins the minute you commit to your financial future.